Rucsandra is currently pursuing her Master's in International Cooperation and Development at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC).Studyportals helped her in her decision process. We asked Rucsandra about her experience of searching and applying to a university abroad.
My name is Rucsandra Moisa, I am from Romania, and I am 24 years old. I am doing a Master’s degree in International Cooperation and Development at the Graduate School of Economics and International Relations (ASERI) of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC) in Milan, Italy. The programme is fully in English, it started in January 2015, and will last one year. At the moment, I am pursuing an internship in Santiago, Chile.
Deciding for a university
When I first started searching for Master’s opportunities, I was mostly interested in the content of the courses, i.e. if they were interesting and profession-orientated, as well as in the quality of the academics. Moreover, I was looking to be part of an international environment where I could meet people from around the world that would enrich my Master’s experience. I considered University of Kent (Brussels campus, Belgium), University of Maastricht (The Netherlands), and Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC) as viable options. Eventually I chose the latter, because it fulfilled all the above-mentioned priorities and it included an internship related to the Master’s as an integral part of the degree.
Nonetheless, I have not had envisioned myself moving to Italy before this opportunity but Milan seemed like a very exciting place to live (taking EXPO 2015, fashion shows, art exhibitions, and entrepreneurship events into account) and it turned out to be truly amazing. It is a vibrant city with many high-class universities, multinational companies, and international organisations, it has beautiful architecture and interesting history, and it is home to the third largest church in Europe (and one of the most impressive I have ever seen) – Duomo di Milano.
On the Studyportals website I found essential information about the university, a presentation of their main programmes, and a link to the official web page. I felt it was a good starting point when looking for basic information about Masters and also helped filter information.
As far as language tests are concerned, I was not required to take one when I applied for this programme, as I had previously done my Bachelor's degree in the UK and my diploma represented enough proof of my language skills.
Going abroad can be scary, as you meet a different culture, different people, a different language, and even a different bureaucracy – all which could make your life difficult. But that’s ok. If you are patient, open, and curious, you can overcome all of these in a short time! Remember: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.
Both of my degrees abroad were financed by my family, who I could not thank enough for their effort and support to make my dreams come true. So, while living abroad for over 5 years I have learned to keep well a budget, be very organized, and divide my activities. Therefore, before going abroad, I would advise you to: 1) check your personal/family financial situation; 2) search for available scholarships programmes (partial or full), such as the EU, Fulbright, Governments etc.; 3) get informed on price ranges in the country of your choice of university fees, accommodation, maintenance, and food and put together a preliminary budget; 4) decide what actions you need to take when you are abroad in order to keep your monthly budget under control.
I would rate my experience in Milan with a happy 9, because academically the Master’s programme has been everything I was looking for and more, I am part of a stimulating international environment (there are 25 students from 16 countries), and I had amazing lectures from professors of the university, as well as from professionals from world-renowned organisations, however due to heavy workload I could not go out or travel as much as I hoped. All in all, it was an enriching experience, as, I learned Italian, I discovered that Milan is a wonderful city, where I would love to come back to live someday and that Italians are people who I always have a good time with. I would warmly recommend my university, as well as any other university located in Milan for a studying abroad programme.
I do not have regrets, nonetheless, if I could do it over again, I think I would try to interact more with the locals, in order to practice my Italian and to deepen my cultural knowledge and sensibility.
One of the biggest surprises in my studying abroad experience was how well my university was organised. I know there is a stereotype about Italians being disorganised but it was not true in my case and thus, I enjoyed a smooth administration and management of my Master’s programme.
I wish the students who want to pursue a degree in a foreign university the best of luck!